Of Flags and Football

 

Marcus Peters

Imagine that you invite me over for dinner, and we’re going to relax in the living room before the meal. You tell me I can sit anywhere I like, except for the big easy chair in the corner, because you say, that was your deceased father’s chair, and no one has sat in it since his passing.

I walk over and then sit in your father’s chair.

You are in shock. Then you are incredulous.

“I asked you not to sit in that chair!” you say.

“I know,” I say, “but this is a free country, and I have a right to sit wherever I like.”

I continue, “When I was growing up my father had an easy chair just like this that he never let us kids sit in, and I’m tired of people telling me where I can and cannot sit. There’s no law against me sitting here, is there?”

You get the point.

In fact there is a law that says we “should stand” for the National Anthem:

36 US Code, Section 301 – National Anthem

(a) Designation.— The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.

(b) Conduct During Playing.—During a rendition of the national anthem—

(1) when the flag is displayed—

(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;

(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and

(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and

(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

(Pub. L. 105–225, Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1263Pub. L. 110–417, [div. A], title V, § 595, Oct. 14, 2008, 122 Stat. 4475.)

Although the law does not specify a criminal charge nor penalties for not standing for the Anthem, it is nonetheless illegal to sit for it.

So who would enforce this affront to national patriotism? Local governments may pass ordinances that establish penalties if they so choose. What a rude awakening it would be if, for example, Kansas City Chief’s cornerback, Marcus Peters, who sat for the Anthem in a Thursday night NFL football game, was arrested on enforcement of a Massachusetts ordinance requiring adherence to the law.
Who would come out of the woodwork to bay in his defense? How many other NFL players or Hollywood stars would come out and offer to pay his bail?
In my humble opinion, jail would be too easy for him and others who pretend to be disgruntled over this or that. A public mocking, me thinks, would be in order. Put them in the public square in stocks! Make them work in veterans outreach programs, or clean toilets at the VA. Something that might get their attention as to why people like me may have had a violent reaction to his antics that fateful Thursday night.
There I was, watching the end of the pre-game show, nestling up to the almighty tube, in the comfort of my own home, my castle, my abode, when the music of one of the most beautiful songs a veteran can hear began to play. A song that still brings a tear to my eye, as the music and the flag bring me back to deployments at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Iraq.
While the music plays I can’t help but reflect on my and the sacrifices of millions of Americans, today and in years past, of my own ancestors who fought in the American Revolution and the Civil War. I think about those who died on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, or those who were killed storming the beaches of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. I think of the Koren War veterans, the Vietnam veterans, the Desert Storm, Enduring and Iraqi Freedom veterans, and today’s proud and wonderful volunteers.
armored-vehicles
As this is going through my mind, and I am anticipating a really good football game, I see this scum-of-the-earth, two-bit wannabe, sitting on the bench with his helmet on! It’s bad enough you can’t stand, but you double-down and keep your head covered as well?
I had the worst Post Traumatic Stress episode I can remember.
I served 22 years in the Army, National Guard and Reserve, from October 1986 to December 2008. I was an enlisted combat medic for five years and then became a Medical Service Corps officer and finished as a major in rank. I spent about 2 1/2 years away from my family for three deployments between 9/11 2001 to December 2005.
I was angry for a time because it seemed like no one even knew or cared that there was a war going on. Then it hit me. that’s why we do what we do, we oathkeepers and sheep dogs. We do it so that everyone at home can go about their daily lives, unafraid and free.
I had some difficulty adjusting after Gitmo, and then after returning from a 14 month Iraq tour. I wanted to drive in the middle of the road. I shook and jumped at loud noises and fireworks. I have tinnitus. I didn’t sleep well.
All in all, it wasn’t that bad though, and the symptoms didn’t last that long. My loving and devoted family were always there for me. I am truly blessed that way.
I wrote a book  for catharsis, and then had it published. My friends and colleagues and Tweeple are all so very kind and supportive. I am truly blessed, and every day is a blessing.
AGitmo
Until I saw number 22 sitting down during the playing of the National Anthem I was happy, relaxed and excited about the game.
Until I saw number 22 sitting down during the playing of the National Anthem I loved professional football, head injuries and last season’s nonsense with Colin Kaeprinck notwithstanding.
Until I saw number 22 sitting down during the playing of the National Anthem I had my stuff together.
Then, it happened.
I lost it. Literally lost it.
I jumped up and started cursing uncontrollably. It was just me and my wife in the room, so I don’t think the kids heard anything. I was lit!
I turned the TV off, cursed the player, whose name I did not know until after the Anthem was over and NBC Sports announced it. I had turned the TV back on in hopes of taking a photograph of the player. They showed him again at the end, standing, looking around for some approval or recognition from someone, anyone. Nope. “You’re on your own, buddy,” I thought.
I turned the TV off again and then fumed.
How dare he? How could  he? Doesn’t he realized countless American patriots, including African Americans and all races, creeds religions and color DIED so that he could defy US Code and sit on his brains during the Anthem?
I shook, I blathered, I spat, I paced, I sweat, I breathed fire.
I didn’t even react that way when Kaepernick pulled his stunts last year. He went from knee to sitting out of “respect” for the military? Not good enough. I boycotted the San Francisco 49ers. Not hard to do in New York.
A few other players did similar stunts, but now it’s gotten wide-spread with the Seahawks, Packers, Rams, 49ers, Raiders, Eagles, Browns and Chiefs all having at least one player sit, eat a banana or show some other sign of protest (disrespect) during the National Anthem.
NFL.1
Let me explain to you just why I had that reaction. I have figured it out. We watch football in our homes. And like the “My Father’s Chair” scenario I painted for you in the beginning of this piece, our home is our personal, private domain, where we control everything that happens. We invite the NFL into our living rooms, dens and bedrooms for our own pleasure and entertainment. So when some knucklehead SITS for our National Anthem on TV, it is happening in OUR HOME.
That is offensive and disrespectful, just as if I had told Marcus Peters not to sit in my fathers chair . . . not only did he sit in it . . . he defiled it.
If any of these guys called for a press conference to discuss their pity-party snowflake fake news butt hurt NO ONE would come, and NO ONE would listen. They are a privileged few.
Less than one percent of all high school football players ever play football on scholarship in college. Less than one percent of all college football scholarship players ever make it on an NFL team. Who are they kidding? Who do they say they represent when they sit? Why can’t they start a fund, or a charity? Donate time and money to causes they care about. Why disrespect all patriotic Americans on national TV?
It’s a drive-by assault on American values.
And the NFL? Completely complicit. The NFL FINES players for wearing the wrong SOCKS on game day. And if a player SITS during the national Anthem? Nothing. Whose values do the Commissioner of the NFL and NFL owners (who are also complicit) pretend to represent when they allow players to SIT for the National Anthem?
The NBA has it right. They require players to stand for the National Anthem. But for how long?
If anyone doubts that standing and showing respect for our National Anthem isn’t the internationally respected norm, witness this video of world champion Jamaican, Usain Bolt, interrupt an interview to show his class and respect for our Anthem.
Usain-Bolt-Stops-Interview-For-National-Anthem
There was a college basketball coach who invited some veterans to a practice one day, and then told the players how and why they will stand for the National Anthem. Watch it. Have your kids watch it. Send it to your favorite NFL football player.
buzz-williams-and-virginia-tech
Of flags and football. It’s about RESPECT.
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14 responses to “Of Flags and Football

  1. Wow !!! That says it all. Thank you
    I am sorry he triggered your PTS
    Scrum doesn’t cover it
    God Bless you and thank you again for putting into words what many many ppl feel

  2. Imagine that you were a free Black slave promised your freedom by the masters if you fight for the Confederacy and survive only to be sold off when you for your family’s freedom papers only to be sold away from them.
    Imagine being the very 1st. Military ship to land in Normandy to realize you were put there as the bait for the Whites to land with knowledge of who is there, because you are Black.
    Imagine you fighting in WWII and your Black platoon sent 1st. in enemy lines and the White soldiers retreat and leave dead soldiers and you bleeding in the snow for 3 days until they comeback. You are put in a decompression chamber for 6 months to thaw in a foreign country and live to be 89 years old with severe rheumatoid arthritis with no relief of pain. Jim Crow laws and discrimination kept you from decent housing even with your VA benefits, oh don’t the curfews for Blacks back then until the early 70’s.
    Imagine you were a Black man accepted in Cornell University, but drafted into the Vietnam War and your 11 month older brother to leaving a mother with no sons. The drafting selection orders were to draft Blacks 1st., poor Whites 2nd as infantry, but the scrimmage/war wasn’t an easy win as thought, so back to Blacks in universities and finally Whites enrolled in college, which when the protest began against Vietnam.
    Imagine volunteering for the military and greedy rich American people want oil from the Middle East, so you are engaged in a dessert only to be still mistreated by a systemic racist DISRESPECTFUL society simply because you are Black.
    Imagine you are a parent of a son that is Muslim who loses his life for the America and the President of USA stands before the world to diminish him.
    Finally, imagine every time that you are pulled over by the police whether you are Black man or woman with no criminal behavior or history, you are awaiting an unwarranted execution. Those players and me have someone in each or all of those scenarios and we are to sing with glee a flag or anthem that didn’t take us in account from their inception?
    Note: please excuse any grammatical or tyagraphical errors for this was written on my phone.

    • So this perceived disrespect is why rich, privileged black men are disrespecting everyone else? Ever heard that an eye-for-an-eye leaves everyone blind? These me are looking for a pound of flesh, but instead reap what they sow: disillusionment, disdain and fruitless effort. Their actions have had the opposite effect that they intended. Black guilt for not inflicting enough white guilt has gotten out of hand, me thinks. If I spit in your face do you really care what I have to say? There are no more living slaves, and there are no more living slave owners. Instead of kneeling for something, how about standing up for something? When asked what he thought about the black entertainers who were boycotting the Academy Awards a few years ago, Oscar Winning actor, Louis Gossett, Jr. said on the red carpet, “We are all one family, the American family.” Indeed, one family, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Amen. Why can’t we all just get along? I think it has something to do with a false narrative perpetrated by the Liberal Left, but this has nothing to do with oppression or free speech or Donald trump, and it has everything to do with RESPECT. Want it? Earn it.

  3. I agree whole completely with everything in this piece. One service man to another, I thank you and salute you brother.
    Fair winds and fallowing seas.
    HM3(SW) Brownfield USN Veteran

  4. Thank you for your Service. From one Veteran to another, I could not have said it any better. I am canceling my NFL Direct Ticket.
    There are better things to do on Sundays. Such as be thankful for this Great Country & the sacrifices of the Soldiers that have allowed us to live Free.

  5. THIS IS A Wonderful TWEET ! I PRAY EVERYONE WATCHES AND READS SAVINGGRACE AT GUANTANAMO BAY ! THANK YOU GOT YOU SERVICE YOU OBVIOUS LOVE FOR GOD AND COUNTRY ! PLEASE SEND THIS VIDEO TO ALL THE TEAM OWNERS

  6. Pingback: Bergdahl and Honor | Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay

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